Dundee United captain Mark Reynolds has revealed how the Tangerines were determined not to be a team in “freefall.”
Reynolds and his Tannadice colleagues had to start winning games again in order to avoid getting caught in a relegation vortex.
Prior to Saturday’s superb home 3-0 victory over Livingston and the previous weekend’s 2-0 success over Ross County in Dingwall, the nerves were jangling among United fans following a run of eight matches without a win.
Micky Mellon’s looked vulnerable to attack from sides below them but rather than get sucked into a whirlpool United have steadied the ship.
Get act together
Reynolds said: “We spoke before the Ross County game and said we needed to get our act together and start playing properly.
“I think those two performances are the standard we need to be hitting every week.
“The league started to tighten up and there is always that team that starts to freefall down towards the bottom of the table.
“You don’t want to be the team that realises too late that it’s in a dogfight.
“I don’t think it was fear, it was just a realisation that there’s usually somebody and you don’t want it to be you.
“We had to get those two results, which keep us where we want to be – pushing for the top six.
“I think we realised we still had enough time to get some results and keep ourselves well clear of it.
“Those were two huge results against a Ross County side fighting for their lives and a Livingston side who have been on a great run and knocking away all-comers.”
Wins stand out
Reynolds was asked if Saturday’s performance, which was achieved courtesy of an early Adrian Sporle strike and a Lawrence Shankland double, was their best of the season thus far.
He replied: “I think it’s certainly up there.
“We have had a few good stand-alone results this season but the last two stick out more because they were on the back of a few horrible results.”
Just as the Tangerines are gathering momentum, they come up against champions-elect Rangers this Sunday.
United were well beaten last time they pitched up at Ibrox but Reynolds insists they will give it a shot.
He said: “We go into that game in a better frame of mind than we would have done a couple of weeks ago.
“Rangers are a strong, strong team who are running away with the league this season so we go to Ibrox knowing we are going to be in a game.
“If we don’t hit the standards we have hit this last couple of games we will be in for a long afternoon.
“We will treat the game with respect but we will go into it and try and do something.
“At Ibrox, you need your starting 11 to be absolutely flying.
“We will just focus on ourselves but we are hitting a bit of form right now.
“To a man, everybody is playing well and Shanks is scoring goals.”
Shanks on song
Talking of Shankland, Reynolds was understandably impressed by the Scotland striker’s two finishes.
He said: “This is Shanks’ first time playing (regularly in the top flight) and he is under a lot of pressure.
“We are a team that has just come up and we’ve done a lot of defending and he’s not had a lot of chances.
“However, we have grown as a team and we are getting used to playing at this level.
“Shanks has goals in him and it’s about getting him the service,” added the central defender.
“People say strikers thrive on confidence and it’s true — once he gets that first goal he’s a different animal when he’s in the box.
“Those were great finishes and I thought he was going to get a hat-trick when he got the ball in a good position a couple of times but he didn’t get his shot away.”
United played for an hour of the Livi with only 10 men after Peter Pawlett was sent off for a challenge on Jason Holt.
Reynolds admitted he had been briefed to avoid putting the boot into referee Nick Walsh but did say: “It’s dangerous to answer it but I’ve seen a yellow card given for them all day long.
“It didn’t look to me like a red but the referee had a different opinion.
“Now we will go and look at it through the appeal process.
“The referee didn’t explain it but he’s not going to turn around and say he made a mistake. He just got on with it. He knows it’s going to be looked at and the cards will fall where they fall.
“For me, it was a reaction. Pete was very close to him.
“It was not a massive lunge. If he had given a yellow I don’t think anyone would have reacted. We would all have got on with it.
“I’m sure it will be caught on camera and hopefully it can be looked at and we can get a result (in the appeals process).”